Tuesday 29 May 2012

JFK's (1)

In my early twenties I would sometimes go to a nightclub called JFK's on a Friday. Friday night was rock misfits' night and the whole place was a sea of black. Black denim, black leather, black lace, black suede, black cotton, black lycra, black hair(frequently), black eye makeup(more often than not).

Amongst incomplete memories that precede terrible hangovers, some of my fondest are from JFK's.

  • The first aider dressing a wound on my hand and telling me that the only reason it was bleeding so profusely was that I'd been drinking. "That makes sense" I said "alcohol is an anti-coagulant". She replied "I wouldn't know about that love, but it thins the blood".
  • A very attractive young woman walking past my friend and I, and once she was gone, my friend conspiratorially (and yet proudly) telling me "I caught scabies off her".
  • A female friend of mine falling down drunk so suddenly that it looked either as though she'd been shot my some unseen marksman, or she was a tree that had just been felled for her valuable timber.
I went to JFK's for the last time on my 29th birthday. I went again for the very last time after a drunken works night out in my early 30's, and I went again, for what really must be the very very last time by accident, a couple of weeks ago. I was far too old, and it isn't the same, not everybody was wearing black, I only recognized about half of the songs and none of the people, and it hasn't even been called JFK's for over a decade.

Richard "Too old. Too old to begin the training" B

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Rough Pub

[contains strong language and mild peril]

I don't know why The Cherry Tree has such a bad reputation. When my band played there on Boxing Day a couple of years ago there were only six separate fights. I was there a couple of weeks ago and got talking to a charming couple. The woman told me about how she'd met her husband there exactly a year ago, and how their 11 week old daughter[note 1] was the most beautiful thing in the world. She wondered if it was my band that played on that magical night last year.

Next I got talking to her husband who started to gently push me around and shouted into my face "Were you trying it on with my misses? Because I'll knock your fucking head off." I told him what we'd been talking about, and that I didn't know if my band was there exactly a year ago. His reply has stuck with all of us as it was so poetically concise and expressive. "It wasn't you. I recognize you, you're a cunt."

The situation wouldn't have had to be much more threatening before I'd have panicked and done something stupid or embarrassing, but I was surrounded by my band, the soundman, and a couple of pretty formidable women. I assumed that had a punch been thrown I would have been protected and he'd have been restrained. Talking to a couple of them afterwards they said that they were frightened, and they weren't sure that they'd have been able to help. One of them even said he thought he'd have run away.

[note 1: If you can't be bothered doing the sums, she must have left about a demure 6 weeks between meeting him and falling pregnant by him]

Richard "Your overconfidence is your weakness. Your faith in your friends is yours." B

Tuesday 15 May 2012


When a ray of light travels from one medium to another the beam is bent, and some of the light is reflected back by the surface. As the angle of the beam changes, more and more light is reflected back until an angle where none of the light makes it thought the surface.

These bits of basic optics tend not to have much effect on people's everyday lives. If you're an angler you probably know that the fish can only see out of the water above them, and that you can hide from them below a sort of shiny horizon. If you drive, then you most likely have a little toggle on the bottom of the rear view mirror which changes its angle. When you flick the toggle you start to use the front face of the glass as the reflecting surface, rather than the mirrored back.

For me, a poor grasp of optics had a much more immediate and humiliating effect. Last week I was walking past a large inner-city housing development when one of my friends told me that I had curry on my face. I took my (large, foppish) handkerchief from my pocket, moistened its corner, pursed my lips and leant towards what I thought was a reflective surface. It turned out that it was in fact a window, and that I was staring into somebody's living room. It contained furniture, decorations, and a young woman behind an ironing board staring back at me in horror and disbelief.

Richard "Total Internal Reflection" B

Wednesday 9 May 2012


This weekend I went to Birmingham to help a band. I did some driving, carried some gear, but for most of the weekend I was a very expensive spare-gooseberry. There was a young and fresh-faced support band "Nerve Centre" playing their own material who were quite interesting. Unfortunately their front-man lost the ability to sing into the front of his microphone as soon as the song required any tricky guitar playing. They finished on a very good (and to my mind surprisingly clean) punk song called "List of things (I'd do to Kim Kardashian before I'd follow her on twitter)". They also did a brilliant hard-rock version of "Fight for your right to party". If they had learned it that weekend as a tribute to M.C. A's death, then it was absolutely spectacular.

There's a couple of incidents and snippets of conversation that will stay with me:

  • The six of us were given three twin rooms, and it seemed so likely that one of the musicians was going to want to entertain a female member of the audience in his room that nobody wanted to share with him. We found the bar's stock of drinking straws and cut one of them down. The bass player literally drew the short straw to figuratively draw the short straw and share a room with the band's boy-slut.
  •  In a tribute to health and safety concerns, we decided that it would be my job to clamber up on a wobbly drum stool and take down the backdrop because I'd drunk 6 or 7 pints by then, and everybody else was virtually sober.
  •  When I was talking too loudly in public about what I'd seen for sale in a supermarket, the guitarist quietly saying to me "Richard, can you just stop shouting 'cock-ring' ?"
  •  The drunk and opinionated singer listening to the DJ and furiously telling me "THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE FOR NOT OWNING 'OGDEN'S NUT GONE FLAKE'".
Richard "Roadie" B

Tuesday 1 May 2012

The Medium is the Message

Communications and media students, and prissy know-it-alls often triumphantly say "The medium IS the message". Sun Microsystems built their advertising identity on this nonsensical phrase during the dot com boom. You can tell it's nonsense because the medium and the message are distinct, they even have different names to make it easier to tell that they're not the same thing.

Having said all that, I have to admit that there was an occasion at the weekend where the message had hidden components that weren't evident in the words of the message. I was on a boys only drinking expedition, and one of the participants had had to leave his 12 year old daughter at home by herself so that he could join us for a quick pint. "It's OK" he said, "She's very sensible for her age, and we've got neighbours who are.... next door." Neighbours are always next door, the sentence by itself is pleonastic and redundant, but we all understood (after we'd finished laughing at him) that the neighbours were helpful, trustworthy, and at home.

It reminds me of a question that a friend of a friend once asked. We were discussing dimly remembered childrens' TV, and "Sooty and Sweep" in particular. She asked "Was Matthew Corbet one of the two Ronnies?"

Richard "Persistent heavy showers" B